Duce Staley

2021 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Exiting the regular season, six teams are searching for new head coaches. That number is up from last season but not quite as high as 2019, though there may well be more vacancies that emerge during the playoffs.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 1-19-21 (4:30pm CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Fallout From Doug Pederson Firing: Eagles, Wentz, Staff

Monday was a pivotal day in Eagles franchise history, as the team fired Super Bowl winning coach Doug Pederson. There’s been a lot trickling out since then, and we’re here to bring you all the fallout from the decision:

  • This all has been “boiling” since last offseason, when owner Jeffrey Lurie and GM Howie Roseman pressured Pederson to fire offensive coordinator Mike Groh, Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. A source told McLane that Pederson actually threatened to quit over it, but Eagles brass didn’t take it seriously. We noted in our initial writeup yesterday a report that “Pederson was sick of people telling him what to do.”
  • To that end, Lurie was apparently “underwhelmed” by the staffing suggestions Pederson made for the 2021 season when they met last week, a source told McLane. Pederson apparently wanted to promote from within, as McLane reports he wanted to promote QBs coach Press Taylor to offensive coordinator and to “bump up defensive line coach Matt Burke to defensive coordinator.” Clearly Lurie was more inclined to bring in bigger names from outside the organization, and it sounds like this was a sticking point in the ultimate divorce.
  • Finally, McLane points out in another tweet that Roseman will now be on his fourth head coach (third that he’ll hire), after Andy Reid, Chip Kelly, and Pederson. McLane writes that “Pederson and Roseman had decreasingly seen eye to eye on personnel.” Roseman is turning into somewhat of a polarizing figure, but he clearly has a lot of power.
  • One of the biggest questions on everyone’s mind when the decision came down was what it meant for Carson Wentz. It might be good news for the former second overall pick, as a source told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com that the firing “significantly increases the chances” of Wentz staying in Philly next season (Twitter link). We had heard just before the end of the regular season that the relationship between Wentz and Pederson was fractured beyond repair, and this could be a sign that Lurie and Roseman believe Wentz should be the quarterback in 2021. The increased likelihood of Wentz returning was confirmed by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, who added that had Pederson been retained Wentz would’ve wanted out (Twitter video link).
  • Lurie released a statement through the team explaining the decision and thanking Pederson, which you can read via this tweet. Not surprisingly, he said Pederson will be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame.
  • The Eagles also tweeted a statement from Pederson, thanking the team, the city, and the fans.
  • We’ve already heard the team is interested in Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley, but Lurie also said at his press conference explaining the decision that assistant head coach and running backs coach Duce Staley would be a candidate for the job. Staley is very popular in the locker room and a number of former players immediately voiced support for him on social media, but that still seems like a pretty big long-shot.

Eagles’ Doug Pederson Tests Positive For COVID-19

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson will spend some time away from the team after testing positive for COVID-19 (Twitter link via Tim McManus of ESPN.com). In the interim, assistant head coach Duce Staley will assume HC duties at the team’s complex, as Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets

[RELATED: 2020 NFL Opt Out Tracker]

Pederson, 52, has not experienced any symptoms, but he’ll quarantine to avoid spreading the virus, per the protocols. The league’s guidelines mandate multiple tests for Pederson before he can get back to work.

Person is the second head coach known to have contracted the coronavirus, following Sean Payton‘s positive test earlier this year. Payton’s recovery was relatively quick – he tested positive on March 16 and he was cleared before the end of the month.

You fatigue real easy,” Payton said of his experience with the virus. “I’d be up moving around, doing something, then you’d want to lay down again. That lasted three or four days. By the time I got the test results back I had begun feeling better. I had my appetite back.”

Pederson is set to enter his fifth year as the Eagles’ head coach. Staley, a longtime Eagles running back, joined the team as an assistant in 2011 and worked his way up to AHC in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fritz Pollard Alliance Recommends HC Candidates

Every year, the Fritz Pollard Alliance releases a list of recommended minority head coaching candidates. This year’s edition is nearly double in size and features the likes of Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores and Cowboys defensive backs coach/defensive passing game coordinator Kris Richard, as Mike Jones of USA Today writes. 

Here’s the complete list of suggested candidates:

  • Keith Armstrong (Falcons special teams coordinator)
  • Teryl Austin (Former Bengals defensive coordinator)
  • Eric Bieniemy (Chiefs offensive coordinator)
  • Jim Caldwell (former Lions and Colts head coach)
  • George Edwards (Vikings defensive coordinator)
  • Brian Flores (Patriots linebackers coach)
  • Leslie Frazier (Bills defensive coordinator)
  • Raheem Morris (Falcons assistant head coach/wide receivers coach)
  • Hue Jackson (special assistant to the head coach of the Bengals; former Browns head coach)
  • Kris Richard (Cowboys defensive backs coach/defensive passing game coordinator)
  • Duce Staley (Eagles assistant head coach/running backs coach)

Flores, the de facto defensive coordinator of the Patriots, figures to be a hot coaching candidate this year. The same goes for Bieniemy, who is helping to guide one of the league’s most dangerous offenses.

Others on this list, such as Jackson and Austin, seem unlikely to garner real consideration for head coaching positions this offseason. The Browns turned the corner after dumping Jackson and appointing Gregg Williams as the team’s interim head coach, which isn’t a great endorsement for the offensive guru. Meanwhile, the Bengals hired Austin in January but fired him earlier this month as his defense was one of the lowest ranked in the NFL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Interviewed Duce Staley For OC Job?

Despite being an Eagles coach for the past seven seasons, Duce Staley did not receive the promotion he sought this offseason. Philadelphia opted to name Mike Groh as Frank Reich‘s offensive coordinator replacement after interviewing both Groh and Staley.

However, Staley may well have participated in another key interview this offseason. The Eagles’ running backs coach met with the Giants about their offensive coordinator position, Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

This is the first report of Staley interviewing for that role, one Pat Shurmur initially sought Vikings QBs coach Kevin Stefanski for but was denied permission. Staley was mentioned as a candidate for Big Blue’s OC position earlier this offseason prior to the job going to former Panthers OC Mike Shula. Nevertheless, he’s back on as RBs coach, now with an assistant head coach title, for the defending Super Bowl champions. This will be his sixth season in that role.

I’m not worried about being a coordinator. I’m worried about being able to be out there and coach for another Super Bowl,” Staley said, via Hayes, changing his tune slightly from last year around this time. “That’s where I’m at right now. Everything else will handle itself.”

Hayes notes Staley wants to be a head coach and knows the OC route would be the easiest way for him to accomplish that goal, and the 43-year-old assistant did not dismiss a possible interest in going the college route to help get there.

But for now, the former Eagles running back is hoping his work leading their current backs will speak for itself and potentially land him a higher-profile job in the near future.

Crazy league. Crazy situations,” Staley said. “You talk about being at the right place at the right time. Sometimes things are slotted, and they may not be slotted for you. Sometimes something may just pop up on you.

Look at Anthony Lynn. Boom, next thing you know, head coach.”

Also an NFL running back in the ’90s, Lynn saw Greg Roman‘s ouster as Bills OC in 2016 lead to a promotion. And a few months later, the Chargers hired him as their head coach. A running backs coach since 2003, Lynn has several years of additional coaching experience compared to Staley. But with the Eagles losing both Reich and John DeFilippo this offseason, Staley could have a smoother path to an OC gig elsewhere if Philly’s offense continues to thrive.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Eagles, Jeffery, Cousins

Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery had surgery on Wednesday morning to fix a torn rotator cuff, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Jeffery first suffered the injury in training camp and played through the pain all the way to a Super Bowl championship.

Jeffery’s toughness is commendable, but rotator cuff tears come in various degrees and his wasn’t of the most severe variety. By getting the surgery in February, the receiver should be ready well in advance of training camp.

Last offseason, the Eagles signed Jeffery to a one-year prove-it deal when the open market didn’t yield the kind of contract offers he wanted. The contract paid big dividends for both sides. The Eagles saw Jeffery catch 57 passes for 789 yards and nine touchdowns during the regular season. Jeffery, meanwhile, was rewarded with a fat four-year, $52MM extension in December.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

Eagles To Interview Duce Staley, Mike Groh For OC

The Eagles will interview running backs coach Duce Staley and wide receivers coach Mike Groh for their offensive coordinator vacancy today, according to Tim McManus of ESPN.com (Twitter links), who adds there are no “immediate plans” to meet with any other candidates.Duce Staley

Philadelphia head coach Doug Pederson is seeking to replace Frank Reich, who was named head coach of the Colts last week. Also missing from the Eagles’ 2018 staff is former quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, who recently became the Vikings’ new offensive coordinator. Pederson calls the offensive plays for the Eagles, but he’s presumably interested in keeping some level of continuity for an offense that ranked eighth in DVOA a season ago.

Staley, who spent seven years of his playing career with the Eagles, has led the club’s running backs room since 2013. He’d also been mentioned as a strong candidate to join Pat Shurmur as the Giants’ new offensive coordiantor, but Philadelphia reportedly had no interest in letting Staley leave for a division rival.

Groh, meanwhile, has much spent much of his career in the collegiate ranks, but worked with the Bears and Rams from 2013-16 before joining the Eagles in advance of the 2017 campaign. The son of former NFL head coach Al Groh, Mike Groh helped former first-round pick Nelson Agholor break out last season.

Reports have indicated the Eagles may go without a formal offensive coordinator in 2018, and Adam Caplan of SiriusXM tweets Philadelphia could conceivably promote Staley to run game coordinator and Groh to pass game coordinator, allowing the two coaches to tag-team the OC role while Pederson calls plays on game day.

Eagles May Not Hire Offensive Coordinator

Even with the departures of offensive coordinator Frank Reich and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, the Eagles aren’t immediately looking to bring in a new offensive coordinator, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter). Rapoport points to running backs coach Duce Staley and wide receivers coach Mike Groh taking bigger roles within the team’s offense. Head coach Doug Pederson is expected to continue to work as the team’s play-caller.

Oct 26, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Eagles 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It didn’t take long for the Eagles’ coaching staff to break apart following their Super Bowl LII win over the Patriots. Reich was named the Colts’ head coach Sunday after Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels backed out from the position and DeFilippo joined Mike Zimmer‘s staff with the Vikings as an offensive coordinator. Reich and DeFilippo helped orchestrate the Eagles’ playoff run with backup Nick Foles under center, including 538 total yards of offense in the Super Bowl victory. It remains to be seen whether Carson Wentz will be able to resume his role as the team’s starting quarterback to open the regular season after tearing his ACL in Week 14.

Reich served two seasons as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator and DeFilippo served two years as the team’s quarterbacks coach.

Staley has spent the last five seasons as the Eagles’ running backs coach and worked the previous two years as a special teams quality control assistant. With a backfield committee that featured LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement, along with Wendell Smallwood at times, the Eagles ranked third in the NFL at 132.2 yards per game on the ground last season. The team was also without Darren Sproles for most of the year, who suffered a torn ACL in Week 3.

Last year marked Groh’s first season with the Eagles following stints as a wide receivers coach for the Bears (2013-15) and Rams (2016). His father, Al, was the head coach of the Jets in 2000. Rapoport also notes that with the Eagles’ reported decision to hold off on hiring an offensive coordinator, all the offensive and defensive coordinator positions around the league look to be filled.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Frank Reich Favorite For Colts’ HC Job

Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich has emerged as the favorite to become the Colts’ next head coach, as Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com report. The two sides still have to work out contractual details, but Indianapolis wants to bring Reich aboard.

Frank Reich (Vertical)

The Colts, of course, were left at the altar when their previous top choice, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, spurned Indy’s offer at the eleventh hour. After the McDaniels debacle, the Colts interviewed Reich, Bills DC Leslie Frazier, and Saints tight ends coach Dan Campbell. In all, the team has interviewed eight candidates for the position, several of whom accepted head coaching jobs elsewhere before the Colts’ “second search” commenced.

Reich was a hot name at the beginning of this year’s coaching cycle, which makes sense considering how effective the Eagles’ offense was in 2017. However, over time, quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo wound up garnering more attention from teams with HC vacancies thanks to his role in Carson Wentz‘s development (DeFilippo, of course, wound up taking the Vikings’ offensive coordinator position). Reich’s candidacy may also have been hurt by the fact that Doug Pederson is the play-caller in Philadelphia.

Reich, a former third-round pick from the University of Maryland, was an NFL quarterback for 13 seasons, though he started only 20 games during that time (posting a 5-15 record in the process). His playing career ended in 1998, and his coaching career began in 2006 as an intern with the Colts. He eventually moved up Indianapolis’ coaching ranks and served as the team’s WRs coach in 2011. He served in the same capacity with the Cardinals in 2012 and worked as the Chargers’ quarterbacks coach in 2013 before being named the Bolts’ OC in 2014. He worked in that role for two seasons before becoming the Eagles’ OC in 2016.

Speaking of the Eagles, this leaves the Super Bowl champs in a bit of a lurch. They are on the verge of losing two well-respected offensive coaches in Reich and DeFilippo, which means that current running backs coach Duce Staley could be in line to become the team’s new OC. Staley was also rumored to be the Giants’ current top choice for OC, so Big Blue will be left scrambling if Philadelphia does not let Staley get away.

In the end, the Colts may well get a Super Bowl LII OC, just not the one they expected. However, as Schefter and Mortensen note, neither GM Chris Ballard nor the team had any comment Sunday about this latest development. Given what Indianapolis just went through with McDaniels, no announcement will be made until after a contract is fully executed with a new coach, a source said.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

New York Notes: Staley, Jets, Anderson, Bills

Aside from facing off in three playoff games in a seven-season stretch from 1993-2000, the Giants and Vikings can’t exactly be classified as rivals. Well, the teams may have some animosity for a bit. The Vikings denied Kevin Stefanski a chance to interview for the Giants’ OC position, and Minnesota’s QBs coach being the previous favorite for that job could make matters difficult for Pat Shurmur.

The Vikings complicated this search further by hiring Eagles QBs coach John DeFilippo to succeed Shurmur as Minnesota’s OC, bypassing Stefanski and poaching a coach off Philadelphia’s staff.

This is relevant because Duce Staley remains under contract with the Eagles, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com reports. Staley, Philly’s RBs coach, is said to be viewed as the Giants’ next choice for the OC role. But with Frank Reich in contention to become the Colts’ head coach, the Eagles could well deny their NFC East rivals permission to speak with Staley. This would keep the 42-year-old assistant in Philly in an attempt to foster some continuity in the event Reich leaves. This chain of events unfolding would make Staley a logical candidate to be the next Eagles OC.

The Giants have not yet requested permission to speak with Staley, but if the Eagles were to block the move, Darrell Bevell and Harold Goodwin may be the next coaches in line. Both are coaching free agents. Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv gives an edge to Bevell in the event Staley stays in Pennsylvania. Complicating this further, Bevell has been mentioned as a possible Colts OC.

Here’s the latest out of the Big Apple:

  • The Jets not landing Kirk Cousins could give Josh McCown another chance, with Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News writing a McCown/No. 6 overall pick solution would be the best bet at a Cousins contingency plan. A Nick Foles trade would not be as likely, per Mehta, who would be “stunned” if the Jets offered the Eagles one of their two second-round picks for the Super Bowl MVP. With Carson Wentz not a lock to be ready by Week 1, the Eagles would be unlikely to unload Foles for a third-rounder given his current stock and potential importance to a title defense.
  • Mehta adds the Jets are not planning to cut Robby Anderson because of his recent arrest. However, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes no extension offer should be expected anytime soon. Gang Green’s leading receiver in 2017, Anderson will be an RFA after next season. However, the January arrest produced three felony charges. And the 24-year-old wide receiver has a history of encountering police. Cimini reports he has 10 traffic violations on his record since 2014, all coming in Florida. His 941-yard season notwithstanding, Anderson may be on thin ice.
  • Both Jermaine Kearse and Quincy Enunwa are due to be UFAs after 2018, and the Jets have some of the most cap space in the league. Cimini would be surprised if the Jets used a sizable chunk of that space to outbid the competition for Jarvis Landry. Instead, he envisions a realistic pursuit of Allen Robinson, noting that since his ACL tear occurred in September, the 24-year-old Jaguars receiver would be a better bet as a long-term investment that had the injury taken place later in the season. If the Jets did land Robinson, Cimini writes the team will likely look to trade Kearse.
  • Two Alabama assistants will be part of Sean McDermott‘s second Bills staff. William Vlachos and Shea Tierney will make their way from Tuscaloosa, Ala., to Buffalo to become Bills offensive assistants, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets. These two will follow Brian Daboll, the Bills’ new OC, in making this move.
  • While John Butler was hired to replace secondary coach Gill Byrd, the Bills have shifted assistant DBs coach Bobby Babich‘s title to safeties coach, Rodak notes (on Twitter). Rodak expects Butler to focus more on corners this year.